Keep Your Team Engaged in the Contact Center
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Define team engagement in the context of the contact center.
- Discuss the benefits of an engaged team.
- Identify various ways to foster better team engagement.
Contact centers demand a lot from their agents. They’re the first line of customer contact for their companies and a critically important part of the customer experience. An agent’s job is to talk to customers all day, and these interactions range from handling routine requests to working through complex issues with frustrated customers. The realities of the job can lead to disengaged employees and high attrition rates. Workforce quality and retention are two of the biggest challenges contact center managers face, and—as you’ll see in this unit—team engagement is one of the best ways to address these issues.
Contact center managers don’t need a reminder about how important it is to cultivate and keep talent, but oftentimes team engagement is overlooked as a method to boost team morale and culture. When a team is engaged, the members of that team find a sense of camaraderie, accomplishment, and meaning in the work they’re doing together.
There are three key ways to bring about team engagement: culture, collaboration, and transparency. Keeping teams engaged should be fun, and it can be as simple as celebrating work anniversaries, having a bake-off, or taking a poll on who has the best phone voice. The main thing is that by engaging effectively and consistently with service agents, managers will not only see an uptick in key metrics, but also develop a happier and more productive workforce.
Most managers see culture as something static that they inherited when they started their job, but it’s important to remember that culture is something that’s always evolving. It’s also something that can be changed by the people at the top. In short: Culture is really a choice.
When managers make an effort to create an uplifting culture, it permeates throughout the organization. Here are some tips to start moving your organization in this direction.
- Appreciation. Show appreciation by celebrating milestones and accomplishments so agents know they are valued. This can be something simple like a handwritten thank-you note for one-year’s service or 1,000 cases solved.
- Empowerment. Give agents the authority to make decisions when dealing with challenging situations, even if it means bending some rules to keep customers happy. Empower agents by letting them know what kinds of exceptions or concessions they can make in challenging situations.
- Work/life balance. Allow your agents the flexibility they need to be successful in all areas of their lives. Make sure they know they can take time out of their workday on occasion to deal with personal matters.
- Personal growth and development. Give top agents the opportunity to work on challenging new assignments. If you have agents who want to move into management or be an expert in a certain area, allow them to shadow people for a day.
Working as an agent in a contact center can sometimes feel like it’s just one person taking on the whole world’s problems. As a manager, it’s important for you to create an environment where agents know they don’t have to work alone to get through cases. Here’s how to encourage collaboration in the contact center.
- Training. Invite top performers to share their knowledge through short training sessions. A half-hour training with a handful of people can be a great opportunity for personal growth and development, and small group sessions are easier to implement.
- Support. Remind agents that they can instant message each other for support if they have a tough case. Newer agents will feel more supported, and more senior agents who want to work their way into management will have the opportunity to try on a mentoring role.
Remember that collaboration opportunities happen all the time; just make sure to encourage your agents to help each other solve problems.
People are engaged when they feel invested in the success of an organization. A great way to build that connection between agents and the contact center is to give them a view into the health of the organization. When management shares goals openly, they inspire trust and enable employees to understand how their own day-to-day activities ladder up to the success of the organization.
By taking the time to think and act deliberately around team engagement, managers can solve many of the attrition and disengagement problems typically found in contact centers.